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The Apidura Packable Visibility Vest is light, fits easily in a jersey pocket and definitely fills a market need. While it is small in size, it provides a surprising amount of additional visibility from the front and back.
Intent on cycling through the dark days and nights of winter? Read our feature 6 tips for cycling at night, and if you're not sure about the Apidura, check out our guide to the best reflective cycling vests for more options.
The Apidura vest is a compact and light (100g) piece of clothing designed to be worn over a jersey or jacket. With its fluorescent yellow main fabric and multiple reflective sections, it provides additional visibility all around the rider.
It also complies with EN 17353, which may be meaningless to many, because it is typically a requirement for workwear and there is no necessity for cycling gear to conform. However, you are required to wear a conforming garment to participate in some longer distance events, such as the renowned Paris-Brest-Paris, and I'm sure others who've taken part are aware of how few options there are for a suitable item tailored for cycling.
What exactly does EN 17353 mean? Apidura states the following: "EN 17353:2020 Type B3 is the European standard that some audax and ultra-distance events mandate a night-time visibility garment meets to participate (such as Paris-Brest-Paris). This standard incorporates the older EN 1150 and EN 20471 standards sometimes referred to by event organisers. By meeting EN 17353:2020 Type B3 the Packable Visibility Vest is certified for use at night."
The Packable Visibility Vest comes in two sizes: S/M for chest sizes 90-105cm (35-41in) and L/XL for chest sizes 106-122cm (42-48in). The S/M measures 45.5cm (17.9in) in length at the back (the L/XL is 48cm), with a claimed packed size of 12cm (4.7in) long and 8cm (3.1in) wide. It contains an integrated pocket for storage, and is compact enough to slip into a jersey pocket or bikepacking bag, taking up very little room; it can be compressed further, too, to roughly the size of a tennis ball.
The vest is secured with two sternum straps that can be adjusted for fit not just by tightening but also by being placed higher or lower in any of the eight slots at the front edges of the vest.
It's generous enough to be worn over thicker clothes, such as a down jacket or some hydration vests. With a chest size of 90cm, I am at the bottom of the chart for S/M, but it was clear that the sizing is rather generous: it didn't feel tight across my chest even when worn over multiple winter weather layers. Even though it wasn't a very snug fit on me, there was very little flap when riding; the only time I noticed it was in strong crosswinds.
While there was little flap, the chest straps could be annoying at times. Each strap has an elastic loop designed to keep the excess in place, but the straps are very long, so if you're anywhere near the slimmest measurement for the size then there is a lot of excess. I was able to feed the straps through the elastic loop a third time, but adjusting the tension then became much more difficult.
When putting it on, the minimal shape means it can twist around itself quite easily, and it isn't as easy to put on when riding as a typical jacket or gilet. Stopping to put it on doesn't take long, though, and while it might not sound like the easiest method, I left the buckles fastened and pulled it on over my helmet – the chest area opening was large enough, and doing it this way the fabric couldn't twist inside out.
In warmer weather, the lightweight fabric is breathable and will wick away sweat to prevent overheating.
Some jackets and jerseys are only available in dark colours, such as the Gorewear Race Shakedry, a favourite of mine. The dark fabric has often been an issue for me, even when riding with lights, so wearing the Apidura vest over it is ideal – it enhances the visibility of essentially any jacket or jersey, and the highly breathable fabric means it won't cause problems, even during warmer months.
I use the Apidura Racing Hydration Vest on some rides, and the Packable Visibility Vest can be worn with that too. Both have the same shape and buckle construction, with ample range in the straps to accommodate the extra girth added by the hydration pack.
The Apidura Packable Visibility Vest costs £45, making it more expensive than many other options, but no other vest currently available is comparable. There are few alternatives built especially for sport that meet EN 17353 regulations, and as I said earlier, for some longer distance competitions, such as Paris-Brest-Paris, it is a requirement to carry and use one at night.
There are many basic workwear hi-vis vests that are cheap to buy, but these are geared for general work use, and while there are some cycling-specific vests, the majority are aimed more at leisure riding or commuting.
The Altura Nightvision vest, for example, is £20 but doesn't meet EN 17353, and Wowow, a Belgian firm that specialises in high-visibility clothing, has a variety of alternatives starting at €16.99 for the Roadie. Both these vests have zip closures and a much larger overall shape than the Apidura, which is far more minimal – more akin to some hi-vis running vests such as the Proviz Hi Viz.
I've found myself reaching for this Apidura vest on almost every ride, the lightweight and small package taking up little space but providing much-appreciated extra visibility during autumn and winter days, giving me a feeling of extra safety and allowing me to wear any jackets and jerseys regardless of how dark they are.
The straps can be slightly annoying but I did find ways to improve this a little, and it doesn't take much away from the overall design. If you frequently ride at night, or at times when extra visibility is important, and not just commuting or leisurely riding, the Apidura Packable Visibility Vest is excellent: it takes up very little space, and is barely noticeable when riding.
Excellent vest that adds visibility to any clothing, and with a very small pack size
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Apidura Packable Visibilty Vest
Size tested: Small/Medium
Tell us what the product is for
"Our EN 17353 certified Packable Visibility Vest is an indispensable item for night riding, audax, ultra-distance and bikepacking.
The Packable Visibility Vest is certified to the European EN 17353 standard, making it compliant for use at events such as Paris-Brest-Paris, as well as other audax and ultra-distance competitions.
With 360-degree graphics designed around on-bike position and night-time reflectivity, this is a must-have addition to any rider's pack list. Adjustable straps with eight different positions ensure fit for a wide range of body types whilst also allowing the vest to be worn over bulky layers (such as a down jacket) or, a low-profile item like our Racing Series Hydration Vest.
Constructed from a lightweight, breathable and wicking mesh fabric, the Packable Visibility Vest weighs just 106g (S/M). Packing into an integrated pocket for ease of storage, it can comfortably fit into a jersey and deployed when required.
The minimal design balances visibility, on-bike comfort and packability to create the perfect balance for ultra-distance, audax, bikepacking and night riding."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Packable Visibility Vest is made from a mix of 87% Polyester and 13% Spandex
Colour: Fluorescent Yellow
Designed to meet the demands of long-distance riding, the material is lightweight, breathable and fast wicking.
Wash the Packable Visibility Vest at 30 degrees with a gentle spin.
Line-dry only. Do not machine dry, or iron.
The Packable Visibility Vest is EN 17353 compliant.
EN 17353:2020 Type B3 is the European standard that some audax and ultra-distance events mandate a night-time visibility garment meets to participate (such as Paris-Brest-Paris). This standard incorporates the older EN 1150 and EN 20471 standards sometimes referred to by event organisers.
By meeting EN 17353:2020 Type B3 the Packable Visibility Vest is certified for use at night.
The fabrics used and construction are very good, with the only small issue being the sternum straps. These can loosen a little when riding, and the excess strap can be awkward to store and stop it from flapping.
Very visible, lightweight, and not restrictive when riding.
No issues during use, and nowhere that seems fragile. It can be washed at 30 degrees, but not tumble dried.
On the more generous side, designed to be worn over bulky tops/jackets. This only really becomes a problem for riders on the bottom end of the size guide when wearing thinner layers.
Two sizes are available, covering a wide range of chest size.
I didn't notice it at all when riding.
£45 for a hi-vis vest is expensive, but there is nothing really comparable, and for those looking for something for longer rides or adventures it will be worth it.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It can be washed at 30 degrees, and it washed well, clearing dirty water and still remaining a bright yellow.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It is light and packs small, as intended. It gives effective visibility up to approximately 100 metres, especially at the rear. The only issue is the sternum straps, as I found the tension was released too easily while riding, and there's nowhere to hold the excess strap.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The lightweight, almost invisible feel, and the added visibility giving confidence to ride with my preferred, darker material garments during testing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The sternum straps occasionally loosened while riding and there isn't anywhere to hold the excess in place and prevent it from flapping around.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are very few, if any, comparable hi-vis jackets that are specifically designed for cycling and can meet EN 17353 certification. It is much more expensive than a normal hi-vis, which you could probably find for a few pounds. The Altura Nightvision vest is £15, and has a relaxed fit, no EN 17353 certification and a larger, and thicker overall construction.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, I found myself wearing it on almost every ride.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
As a rider who enjoys participating in longer distance events, including audaxes, I regularly ride in the dark. While some events necessitate the use of a hi-vis vest, most of the time I simply want to be more visible. There are few other options available if you're looking for a vest or item of clothing that provides visibility and reflectiveness while not interfering with other cycling clothing. The Apidura Packable Visibility Vest completely meets the brief, with a very tidy and tiny design that doesn't interfere with normal riding. If you're in Paris for the start of PBP 2027, this will undoubtedly be the vest of choice.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
Matt is an endurance nut who loves big rides and big events. He's a former full-time racer and 24hr event specialist, but now is also happy riding off-road on gravel bikes or XC mountain bikes and exploring the mountains and hills of Mid Wales.